He is the true ambassador of the best artisanal viennoiserie. Schools from all around the world ask him to come and show his already legendary elaborations. But Johan Martin does not renounce his most solid professional principles. Viennoiserie, or just as the French say, viennoiserie in particular and pastry in general require pause, patience and professionalism.
‘Nowadays everything seems to have to be done very quickly, which means that some essential steps can be neglected during the kneading, fermentation or cooking. The profitability is omnipresent, and sometimes pushes the professional to overlook one or more of these steps’.
The great Johan Martin, international pastry consultant, shares four of those emblematic specialties with us in these pages while offering us his point of view on the current state of the trade. ‘Viennoiserie is a living madness around the world,’ he concludes.
Why is viennoiserie in fashion?
It’s not just viennoiserie. Nowadays, great pastry classics are in fashion. Viennoiserie is going crazy all over the world. I do not do a single class where I do not teach viennoiserie. Clients long for pain au chocolat, croissants, kouign aman, kouglof, etc.
For some time now, we have seen the appearance of new and innovative techniques, such as the two-color croissant, some fantastic decorations that seem to give a second breath to viennoiserie.
Social networks are also playing a paramount role in this influence.
How should the perfect croissant be? What characteristics should it have?
The perfect croissant does not exist. But I can tell you about a good croissant, in which a good crispy outside (croustillant) and a light, flaky inside have to match. There are multiple preparation techniques that influence the development of flavors, such as slow fermentation, poolish… The choice of butter is key to obtain a unique flavor.
For me, a good croissant should always be kept very flaky, very crispy on the outside and airy on the inside, with nice and light air cells.
What are the main mistakes that are usually made in the production of viennoiserie?
First, the choice of good raw materials is important (flour, butter, etc.). Making viennoiserie is a complicated task that requires a lot of time, patience, rigor and specific equipment. Nowadays, everything seems to have to be done very quickly, which means that some essential steps can be neglected during the kneading, fermentation or cooking. Profitability is omnipresent and sometimes pushes the professional to overlook some of these steps.
On your trips around the world, what has surprised you the most recently? Can we say that artisan pastry is improving internationally?
As I said before, viennoiserie is going crazy all over the world. I am also seeing the emergence of increasingly beautiful concepts in terms of bakeries and pastry shops around the world (Australia, Asia and Europe, of course). The raw materials used are still very expensive and, therefore, it is a luxury product that is somehow fashionable. I always give the example of a magnificent almond croissant that I tried on one of my trips. It cost 12 dollars!
Let’s talk about your book ‘Signatures’. What’s the idea behind the book?
It has taken me essentially a year of work. It consists of 85 signature recipes adapted to pastry shops mainly. Among them there are five viennoiserie recipes that come from my heart. It is a book for professionals, amateurs and pastry enthusiasts.
I wanted to make a good recipe book for everyone to use, and not a library book.
In 2012, you said in so good.. magazine: ‘The future of patisserie does not worry me as long as we keep offering fresh products, made by us, and we do not cheat our customers.’ Do you still feel the same?
My opinion on this subject remains unchanged Ð the future of pastry does not worry me as long as it offers fresh products and made in the workshop. Clients purchase spontaneously through the visual but will come back only if the flavor is present. This is my intimate conviction.